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South African Journal of Economic and Management Sciences

On-line version ISSN 2222-3436
Print version ISSN 1015-8812

S. Afr. j. econ. manag. sci. vol.12 n.1 Pretoria Apr. 2009




Celebrity endorsements versus created spokespersons in advertising: A survey among students



DLR van der Waldt; M van Loggerenberg; L Wehmeyer

Department of Marketing and Communication Management, University of Pretoria




In this study the use of endorsements in advertising was investigated. Endorsements can either be in the form of a celebrity acting as a spokesperson for an organisation or the organisation can create a spokesperson to act as an endorser. The problem that faces marketers is that little scientific proof exists if students perceive celebrity endorsements and creative spokespersons differently with regard to their expertise and trustworthiness. The aim of this study was to determine the attitudes of respondents with regard to expertise, trustworthiness and attractiveness of created spokesperson and celebrity endorsements in advertisements. This knowledge will provide marketing professionals with the strategic advantage of how and when to make use of an endorser.
Ohanian's (1990) measurement scale of perceived expertise, trustworthiness and attractiveness was adopted in a self-administrative questionnaire for this article. Respondents (n = 185) were exposed to six visual images of endorsers namely: three celebrities and three created spokespersons.
It was found that attractiveness should not be used as a factor when comparing created endorsers with celebrity endorsers. The respondents perceived both endorsement applications as highly credible and professionals need to consider each application's advantages and disadvantages when deciding which application will be more effective for their advertising strategy. In the long term the organisation might find it more cost effective to create its own spokesperson due to the risk of possible characteristics changes or negative associations of celebrity endorsers. Revoking advertisements after celebrity endorsers have received negative publicity or changed character can lead to great financial losses. Created endorsers, on the other hand, provide the organisation with greater control and the ability to change to adapt to the organisation's market and advertising needs.

Key words: Advertising, marketing, celebrity endorsement, created spokesperson, strategy, credibility, attractiveness, trustworthy

JEL M31, 37



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